Author: Palmer Caine

Something knocked on the window. I saw its form in the mirror, but no detail. Before I spoke it slid open the door and landed on the back seat. I watched it in the rear view mirror, trying to find a comfortable spot.

“Where ya off too?” I asked once it stopped wriggling.

It gurgled as it spoke, “Just get me out of this district,” it said, it’s laborious breath weighted and difficult.

“Traffics slow. That ok with you?” I wanted to be certain.

“Yeah, sure.” It gurgled, “Darken the windows back here will you.” It added with a burp. I did as it requested.

Fifteen minutes later we had left the Longmere District for the Kytori straight. I turned slightly to address my fare;

“So whereabouts do you want dropping?” I smiled broadly. My father told me it’s harder to assault someone if they are smiling.

My fare groaned and gurgled, I caught sight of a stomach wound, if Its stomach was situated as a humans’ is. Thick green blood caked the creature’s clothing. Its flesh, also caked, was a dark grey and wrinkled. There were dry patches above the wound, but the blood hadn’t stopped pumping.

“Look erm…” I began, “Where do ya want me to take you? I don’t really want you dead in my cab.” It laughed heartily, spitting dark green goo over the back over my seat.

“Do you know what I am?” it asked. I looked round and eyed it thoughtfully. Three of its six eyes blinked.

“You’re a Nix,” I said confidently.

It seemed to smile, “Well done.” It gurgled, “You’re right, I am Nix.” Then It paused and took a stilted breath, resting Its head on the back of the seat.

“But once,” It continued after a short pause, “I was much more. The Generalissimo, the Protector, the National Thought…” It gagged suddenly, each syllable gurgled green. Catching Its breath, It told me to head for the, “…Gronzia borough.” and fell silent.

Soon enough we were outside the city limits where districts become boroughs. My fare had been in and out of consciousness for a while and I was beginning to consider places to dump the body. The last thing I wanted was Official Police involvement. I was about to scout a possible disposal site when my fare addressed me, leaning forward to speak directly into my ear:

“Where are we going?” It asked, it’s stinking breath hot on my neck. “I told you Gronzia, G-Ronzia.”

“Yep,” I smiled nervously, “Th.That’s it, that’s it. Be about fifteen minutes. You re…sit back and relax…” I stumbled through the words.

My fare chortled and fell back. It pressed Its bloody print to the scanner giving the journey generous credit and me a good tip. I caught Its name, Doozkl, not a name I recognised. The way It’d spoken I thought Doozkl might be some big shot, someone in the news, someone who knew the big nasty the Grand Nix, the Generalissimo, as It had claimed. Doozkl reflection smiled at me in the mirror.

Approaching the Gronzia Borough Doozkl punched in an address code, illuminating my dash map. Minutes later we were descending into an area dense with moss, bordered by towering thickets. We landed and Doozkl proved to be surprisingly spritely, leaping out of the cab and disappearing into the thickets of moss laughing.

Cleaning the cab at the end of my shift I found a scrap of paper screwed up on the floor behind my seat. The writing was Nix, it said, ‘The King is Dead, Long Live the King.’